WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will meet with Cuban American activists at the White House on Friday to discuss the recent wave of protests throughout the island nation, an administration official told McClatchy on Thursday.
The meeting comes after thousands of Cuban Americans rallied in front of the White House to draw attention to the islandwide uprising that shook the country on July 11 and the violent crackdown on protesters that followed. Human Rights Watch and other organizations estimate that more than 500 people have been arrested.
The meeting will focus on “the historic demonstrations in Cuba and the administration’s response, including applying new sanctions on Cuban leaders and establishing internet access for the Cuban people,” the administration official said.
Among the activists invited are L. Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas and co-founder of Roots of Hope; Yotuel Romero, lead singer of Orishas, a Cuban hip-hop group, who was the main author of "Patria y Vida," a song that has become an anthem for the protesters; Ana Sofia Pelaez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project; and Manny Diaz, former Miami mayor and chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
Last week, Biden condemned “unequivocally … the mass detentions and sham trials” following the protests and imposed sanctions on the head of the Cuban armed forces and a special elite unit that has been deployed to suppress the demonstrations. He also said he ordered his administration to work with civil society organizations and the private sector to find ways to circumvent the regime’s internet censorship efforts.
White House officials have been meeting with leaders in the Cuban American community in the past few weeks to seek ideas on how to support the Cuban people. On Tuesday, National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez met with Rosa Maria Paya, the Cuban activist leading a referendum initiative named Cubadecide.©2021 Miami Herald. Visit at miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.